Schiff, Nunes, Meeks Introduce HAVANA Act to Provide Benefits to Victims of Anomalous Health Incidents
Washington, May 19, 2021
Washington, DC – Today, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act of 2021, or the HAVANA Act, a bill to grant additional authority to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Secretary of State to provide disability benefits to individuals afflicted by the anomalous health incidents in Havana, Cuba and around the world.
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the Intelligence Committee, and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined Schiff to introduce the legislation.
The HAVANA Act is a companion to legislation being introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is the product of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation on an issue of urgent national importance.
“There’s no higher priority than ensuring the health and safety of our people, and the anomalous health incidents that have afflicted our personnel around the world are of grave concern. Our committee has been intently focused on these troubling incidents and will not let up until the full truth is known, our people are treated and protected, and those responsible held to account,” said Chairman Schiff. “And as we continue that important work, we will take whatever action is needed to help those individuals affected, as this legislation makes clear.”
“These benefits are well deserved by patriotic Americans who were apparently subject to attack while serving their country," said Ranking Member Nunes. "We need to provide the best possible care for these individuals while continuing our work to get a full explanation of their illnesses.”
“As the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence continue to assess the origin and nature of these unexplained health incidents, it is vital that we help those affected individuals. It is critical that Congress and the Administration work together to address what has happened, prevent further such incidents, and ensure health and safety for our government employees overseas. Our brave public servants around the world who have been impacted by these unexplained incidents while working to advance American interests abroad have our gratitude—and let it be known we have their backs,” said Chairman Meeks.
This measure provides a technical but important fix to existing benefits statutes, which could frustrate compensation for Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) arising in connection with anomalous health incidents. In 2020, the final Intelligence Authorization Act for 2018, 2019, and 2020 passed by the whole Congress included Section 6412 – a House Intelligence Committee provision of the Intelligence Authorization Act which created special authority for DCIA to increase workers’ compensation payments to certain injured personnel and their dependents; this legislation builds on that provision.
This is one of many steps that the House Intelligence Committee is taking to address anomalous health incidents. The Committees have engaged in a long-running, regular dialogue and oversight work with both current and former U.S. personnel who have offered first-hand accounts of the anomalous health incidents and related matters – to include the Executive Branch’s provision of medical care to those affected, as well as investigative and other activities to identify these incidents’ cause or causes.
A copy of the legislation can be found here.